Cardiologist discusses why shoveling snow could harm your health in Metro Detroit

Those with high-risk factors are advised to stay inside and take breaks even if they’re healthy

Shoveling snow, especially the heavy, wet variety we’re getting Friday, is linked to medical emergencies like heart attacks.

Local 4 spoke to a Corewell Health cardiologist who explained why shoveling could harm your health and why snow blowing can.

“Any sort of chest discomfort, whether it’s a pressure in aching, a burning something that you’re feeling while you’re exerting yourself and goes away when you rest, that’s coming from your heart,” said Dr. Monica Jiddou-Patros.

Jiddou-Patros says the cold weather is what makes shoveling snow a significant risk for your heart.

“Because that can cause the blood vessels to kind of tie in or spasm or constrict, and that affects the way that the blood goes into the heart,” Jiddou-Patros said.

Then there’s the amount of energy you put into it, especially if you don’t normally exercise.

“Listen to your body,” Jiddou-Patros said. “People who have high-risk factors for heart disease should not be shoveling the snow. It’s even been shown that pushing a snow blower, especially when it’s really heavy, can still put a strain on the heart.”

Jiddou-Patros encourages those with high-risk factors to stay inside and take breaks even if they’re healthy. Another tip she suggested is not to wait until the snow event ends.

“If you can literally sweep it, you know, with a broom, that means it’s late enough it’s not going to take quite as much exertion,” Jiddou-Patros said. “That’s an option, but with the snowblower same thing, don’t wait until the snow is done. If you can go out little by little, one, it’s not as heavy, and you’re not exerting as much force to get rid of the snow that could help alleviate it.”

We talked about heart attacks, but she says after snow events like the one that occurred Friday (March 3), they also see patients come in with shortness of breath and chest pains. The important part is if you feel that way and it’s not going away, seek help.

Read: Metro Detroit could see ‘thundersnow’ in winter storm: What that means

More: Tracking winter snowstorm in Metro Detroit -- here’s what to expect

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.